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DPI holds workshops to engage UI System campuses in research, development

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DPI holds workshops to engage UI System campuses in research, development

By Manuel Román-Basora, Contributing Writer

The University of Illinois Discovery Partners Institute held the first workshop of the year at the iHotel & Conference Center on Monday.

The event was opened by Tim Killeen, president of the UI System, who shared encouraging words for community building within the DPI.

Conceived in 2017, the DPI was launched last year as a statewide public-private research endeavor, resembling a Silicon Valley for the Midwest. The Office for University Relations has framed the DPI as a catalyst for economic activity on an unprecedented scale.  

To address 21st-century challenges, eight working groups have been formed, ranging from entrepreneurship and technology transfer to education and workforce development.  

Each of the three campuses of the UI System is represented in these working groups. They are currently collecting input mainly from faculty and staff. Additional workshops engaging the academic community will be held at the Springfield campus Feb. 26 and at the Chicago campus March 1.

Presently, the DPI operates on the fourth floor of 200 S. Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago, near Union Station.  Its permanent home is planned as a 500,000 square feet facility to be constructed in 62 acres of donated land in Chicago’s south Loop, which is expected to be built by 2023.  This Chicago-based research institution will be connected through satellite hubs operating under the Illinois Innovation Network.

The Center for Community Sustainability of Northern Illinois University was announced last October as the first hub outside the UI System is set to be ready by 2021. Currently, there are four IIN initiatives associated with the University, three with the Chicago campus and one with the Springfield campus.

There are four initial IIN projects for the Urbana-Champaign campus outlined during the DPI update presentation from Bill Sanders, interim director of DPI:

  • Altgeld Hall renovation and Illini Hall replacement, expected to be completed by 2022 and 2024, respectively.
  • Illinois Biomedical Translational Facility, expected to collaborate with the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine.
  • National Center for Supercomputing Applications and Siebel Center for Computer Science Expansion, a 70,000 gross square feet expansion.
  • Research Park Expansion, a 35,000 gross square feet expansion.

Funding for the project is found in the fiscal year 2019 capital budget of the state of Illinois, appropriating $500 million for the development of the DPI. The money comes from funds transferred from the Build Illinois Bond Fund to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The nonstate partners that will contribute nearly $250 million for the construction of the DPI building and other facilities associated with it are still pending to be announced. The first corporate partner of DPI is OSF HealthCare with headquarters in Peoria, Illinois, which was announced last summer. 

The DPI has partnered with the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, as well as foreign partners such as Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the MS Ramaiah Medical College in India.   

A study completed last January by Economic Modeling Specialists International projected the present value of short-run and long-run impacts created by the DPI will generate a total economic impact on the Illinois economy of $4.3 billion in added income from fiscal year 2019 to fiscal year 2032.

“We need this to be successful … All of us need this to be successful,” said Mark Tebbe, chairman of ChicagoNEXT, an organization dedicated to driving growth and opportunities in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in Chicago.

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